This was interesting. Personally I have deliberately placed symbolism in my writing, especially poetry. It’s funny how some of the writers who responded admitted symbolism in their writing, some denied it or said it was unintentional, and Joseph Heller said that readers finding it in his writing helped him understand his work better.
You always wondered if your college lit professor was just making crap up.
Turns out, maybe they were.
This article from The Paris Review offers a revealing take by many famous authors on how much symbolism played a part in their work.
Their comments were prompted by a letter from a 16-year-old Bruce McCallister in 1963. He was tired of the constant find-the-symbolism game in English class, so he took it upon himself to ask them what the big deal was with symbolism.
He mailed a simple four-question survey to more than 150 novelists. About half of them responded. The responses were varied, but most of the authors seemed to think symbolism is overanalyzed. Their comments were awesome:
The survey included the following questions:
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